The newest members of the Prince George’s Police Department are being celebrated, but hold the cake and punch—these recruits prefer bones and biscuits.
The department’s Special Operations Division hosted a graduation ceremony Nov. 15 for its newest K-9 trainees. Each of the graduates completed a tough training program during which they learned and perfected techniques such as how to identify explosives and drugs, officials said.
The graduates included Slick and Zeva, military dogs who previously served several tours in Afghanistan locating several improvised explosive devices, police said. The ceremony took place at Prince George’s County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 89. Officers paid tribute to seven canine patrol units and seven drug-detection teams.
Law enforcement officials all over the world credit patrol dogs for playing an essential part in police work.
“In the same situations, human police officers would have to use their eyes and search large areas,” Acting Sgt. Bob Heverly, supervisor of the Special Operations Division/K-9 unit, said in an email.
So far this year, Prince George’s canines have been responsible for the apprehension of 72 suspects. On Oct. 24, in Beltsville, Cpl. B. McKinniss and his canine partner, Stony, helped District 6 officers tracked a suspect wanted for a burglary and assault. McKinniss and Stony tracked the suspect across several lawns to the rear sliding door of a home, Heverly said. The suspect was found sleeping on a couch near the door and arrested.
Also that day, in Temple Hills, Cpl. Geoff Brown called upon K-9 Taz to sniff a vehicle at a traffic stop in District 4.
“Taz located 29 grams of powder cocaine and 30 grams of crack cocaine with a total street value of $11,800.00, hidden underneath the vehicle in a metal tube,” said Heverly.
On Oct. 30, K-9 Scooby, who was working with Police Officer First Class J. Kehoe, helped District 4 officers track two suspects wanted for an armed robbery of a citizen.
“POFC. J. Kehoe and K-9 Scooby started a track from the location of incident and tracked to an opening in a fence along a wood line,” Heverly said. “As the canine was going through the opening in the fence, one of the suspects jumped up and began to flee…They pursued the suspect as he ran behind a house. POFC. J. Kehoe and K-9 Scooby approached the backyard, made a canine announcement and ordered the suspect out. The suspect identified himself and surrendered without further incident.”
The suspect likely surrendered so easily because he wanted to avoid a close encounter with Scooby.
Police said the biggest benefit of working with K-9s is their ability to literally sniff out trouble.
“Canines are superior in their olfactory ability, their sense of smell, and are able to perform certain tasks with a higher degree of efficiency and accuracy than a police officer,” Heverly said. “A canine's sense of smell is about 50 times better than that of humans. Using their powerful noses, police canines can assist officers with locating criminals, missing persons, evidence, illegal drugs, weapons, explosives and contraband,” he said.